– Spacious well-appointed cabin
– Good ride and safe handling
– Fair power and fuel economy
– A bit on the pricey side
– Rear seat doesn’t split-fold
– Distracting multimedia setup
The Honda Accord has been a top player in the midsize segment for decades now, and they’ve managed to do so by going the extra mile, be it in terms of engineering or cabin refinement, rather than just following the template set by the Toyota Camry. However, they kind of hit a peak with the 2013 Accord, so they haven’t fiddled with the formula much for the 2017 model.
Built in America, external changes to the facelifted Accord are limited and yet still substantial. While the V6 Sport version gets sharper full-LED headlights, our top-spec 4-cylinder model gets only halogens. The fog lamps and running lights are LED though, as are the new BMW-style rear light clusters. Aside from dual exhaust tips, our test car had an optional kit consisting of front/side/rear skirts, a rear lip spoiler and some stick-on chrome strips to “sporty up” the looks, although the 17-inch machine-cut alloy wheels look a bit small for this large car (the V6 Sport gets more attractive 18-inchers).
The cabin in our top-spec 4-cylinder tester was very nicely done, even cleaner than the outgoing model thanks to the elimination of secondary physical controls for the touchscreen. While Honda has snuck in a bit too much hard-plastic bits on the door panels, there’s enough cushy trim in other areas, with padded leatherette extending all the way up to the window-sills on all doors, nicely-padded armrests, and a soft-touch dash top with slivers of faux wood. Even the steering-wheel wrapping feels “Germanic” while driving. With beige upholstery, it feels airy and premium.
Cabin space is good enough to fit basketball players, so no issues there. The boot is big as well, with little details like grocery-bag hooks and plastic covers to hide the wiring along the goose-neck hinges. Little details like that set the Accord apart from cheaper sedans, although the rear seat only folds down in one piece rather than split-fold. The front cup-holders are uncovered but with an odd chrome ring around them. There are also cup-holders in the central rear armrest, several other covered cubbies up front, and pockets on all the doors.
That big LCD screen on the dash is standard, but the information displayed on it may vary, depending on trim level. On our fully-optioned car, it showed everything from radio stations to navigation. A colour touchscreen below the big main screen is used to control multimedia functionality, including the stereo and Bluetooth phone, but oddly enough, physical buttons and knobs have been completely removed, including the volume knob. The intuitive interface, capacitive touchscreen and big icons are useful, but some responses can be delayed at times, although the steering-wheel buttons are there for some functions at least. Only the strong dual-zone auto a/c gets its own physical buttons.
The upper screen also functions as a display for the excellent rear-view camera which has a wide-angle setting, as well as the optional LaneWatch system that shows the view on your right-side blindspot. The latter is a bit complicated to use, especially at night when all you see are headlights, but it can be useful in the day. Aside from ABS, ESP, hill-start assist, tyre-pressure monitor and a full set of airbags, further safety features such as collision detection, adaptive cruise and lane departure warning/mitigation are reserved for the V6 models.
Other features in our Accord EXL included all the usual power accessories, power front seats, smart keyless entry and start, sunroof, rear a/c vents, acceptable CD/MP3 stereo with Bluetooth streaming, phone and USB/AUX ports, rear parking sensors, cruise control, rear camera with guiding lines, both power-adjustable front seats, electric rear sun-blind and more.
The base engine is an updated version of the 2.4-litre 4-cylinder found in previous models, but it is now mated to a CVT automatic. The motor is now good for 189 hp at 6400 rpm and 247 Nm of torque at 3900 rpm, specifically on EX and EXL models with dual exhaust tips (lower-spec DX and LX single-exhaust models get 185 hp and 245 Nm). That’s decent power for the daily drive, and we managed a 0-100 kph time of 9.5 seconds with the ESP on during our October test. Honda tunes their CVT well, as it was nonintrusive and responsive, although there are no paddle-shifters on 2.4L models, should you want to fiddle around manually. The CVT helped it get very good mixed-use fuel consumption during our test, at 9.0 litres/100 km.
The ride quality is fairly smooth, too soft to be a sports sedan, but perfectly fine as a daily-driver, with no bouncy rebounds on uneven surfaces. The cabin is kept reasonably noise-free at highway speeds, possibly better than the 2013 version, although we feel some of its American rivals are a bit more quiet in terms of road noise. The Accord comes with active noise cancellation to muffle engine noise, and we can attest that it works well.
Around corners, the Accord may not hold a candle to the Mazda 6, but it still handles well enough to be entertaining. The front-wheel-drive platform is obviously biased towards understeer, and not as nimble as the Mazda 6 or even the Ford Fusion, but it’s still much better than anything Korean. Body roll is limited, and the 225/50 tyres wrapping the 17-inch alloys offer great grip. Understeer shows up eventually during corners, but it appears gradually so there are no surprises.
What we also liked was the responsiveness of the controls. The throttle pedal is responsive and the brake pedal is linearly weighted, unlike the delayed-electronics mess in most European cars. The ABS-assisted brakes themselves are good enough for the daily commute and the occasional hard stop. The electric power steering is very light when trundling around town, but firms up a bit at speed, although feedback remains minimal.
After all is said and done, the Honda Accord is still among the best, but also one of the more expensive choices in the midsize sedan class once you option it up like our EXL test car. Pretty much all its main rivals are cheaper, while offering just as much, if not more. As such, we’re still going to tell people to buy one of these over its rivals, but pick one of the lower trim levels at a more realistic price-point, while still enjoying the updated model’s new-found power and refinement.
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